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Leah Williamson: England captain reveals endometriosis flare-up nearly resulted in her missing Lionesses' Euro 2022 glory

Lionesses captain Leah Williamson led her country to glory at the European Championships; the defender revealed an endometriosis flare-up nearly caused her to miss the tournament; Williamson was diagnosed with the condition last year and caused her major pains before the tournament

England's Leah Williamson lifts the UEFA Women's Euro 2022 trophy
Image: England's Leah Williamson lifts the UEFA Women's Euro 2022 trophy

Leah Williamson has revealed a flare-up of endometriosis nearly ruined her chances of participating in England's victorious 2022 European Championship campaign.

The 25-year-old Arsenal defender led the Lionesses to Euros glory at the heart of the defence, replacing Steph Houghton as national team captain just before the tournament, but Williamson nearly had to miss the tournament herself due to severe pains.

Williamson was diagnosed with endometriosis last year after suffering from intense period pains, and a concussion injury just before the Euros put her tournament participation in doubt.

In an interview with Women's Health, Williamson said: "Before the Euros I had a concussion, which they say can really impact your next period, and it was bad - like, really bad.

What is endometriosis?

  • Endometriosis is a long-term condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows in other places, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
  • Symptoms of endometriosis include pain in your lower tummy or back (pelvic pain) and severe period pains.
  • Treatments for endometriosis include painkillers, hormone medicines and surgery to remove the endometriosis tissue.
  • Chelsea Women's manager Emma Hayes underwent emergency hysterectomy surgery for endometriosis in October and spent time away from the team in recovery for five weeks.

"You know when you're on the bathroom floor and literally like: 'I can't move.' When it's too late to take the tablets because I'm, like, in it now.

"I was like, 'it cannot happen.' Like, I actually won't be able to play. [An endometriosis flare-up] is a big fear when you get to a tournament not injured.

England's Millie Bright and Leah Williamson celebrate winning the UEFA Women's Euro 2022 final at Wembley Stadium, London. Picture date: Sunday July 31, 2022.
Image: Williamson led the Lionesses to European Championship glory in defence

"I don't change too much around [my cycle] now. Unless I'm on the floor. And then I'm like: 'I won't make it today'. I'm a professional athlete, I've always been like, 'let's get on with it'."

Williamson played in every minute of the tournament and the Lionesses conceded only two goals in the entire tournament.

The defender was also named in the Team of the Tournament alongside fellow Lionesses Mary Earps, Keira Walsh and Player of the Tournament Beth Mead.

Wiegman: Euros changed women's football and we're not finished

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Speaking to Sue Smith as part of a Christmas special, England manager Sarina Wiegman explains how the European Championship was won, the impact on the country and how the victory has helped develop the game.

Five months since the Lionesses created history and won the Euros, Sarina Wiegman reflects on a summer that transformed women's football.

Wiegman was described by captain Williamson as the "missing ingredient" the Lionesses needed to win their first major tournament. What is the legacy of that famous victory so far? How has women's football changed and what would winning the World Cup in 2023 mean? Sky Sports News spoke to the head coach of the England women's team at the stadium where they created history.

Lionesses hold government talks over equal opportunities for girls

England players have continued their talks with the government as they attempt to get equal access for girls to play football in schools.

Leah Williamson, Lotte Wubben-Moy and Baroness Sue Campbell met officials and ministers from the Department for Education earlier this month following talks with then PM Liz Truss in October, Sky Sports News can reveal.

The Lionesses' success has done much to release the hopes of a generation of 'sporty' girls
Image: The Lionesses' success has done much to release the hopes of a generation of 'sporty' girls

Following their Euros success, the Lionesses wrote an open letter to government urging them to ensure girls have access to at least two hours of PE each week and the guidance of female teachers in the subject.

It comes as the FA also released the latest participation and growth of women's game figures, which show Women's Super League attendances in 2022/23 have increased by 227 per cent compared to last season.

Other figures include:

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